Having recently celebrated 25 years working for a vast range of clients in the private and public sectors, Daniel O’Mahoney, managing director of Bradley O’Mahoney Public Relations, outlines the five soft skills that are essential for success in the services sector
When Sir Terry Wogan was asked the secret of his success and why he rarely rehearsed his lines, he simply said: “They either like you or they don’t.”
It is not as simple as that when working within the services arena, but there is no doubt in my mind that chemistry is essential to building long term client relationships and to growing your own personal brand. Here are the five key attributes to building a stellar personal brand in the services sector.
Likeability. People do business with people. So to be successful you have to be a ‘people’ person. You have to like interacting with people and being genuinely interested in what they have to say, who they are and what they are passionate about. This has nothing to do with your technical or creative skills or your ability to do the job better than anyone else. In the services sector, you have to build close relationships with clients; if they don’t ‘get’ you as a person the relationship will not last long.
Trust. This comes very high on the list. Trust is built over time and is a defining factor in all client relationships. It is based on your client’s unshakeable belief that you are there for them and that you are going to deliver against those actions you have committed to. Clients don’t want shocks or surprises; they want action and predictability of service. So, my approach has always been to agree what needs to be done, go away and do it and if there is a reason why it can’t be delivered, explain what the obstacle is and provide a solution.
Integrity. This is about doing the right thing and being fair and respectful in your dealings and negotiations with clients, partners and suppliers. This is a long-term commitment and one that can, at times, be difficult to fulfil. However, by having integrity as a guiding principle your long-term reputation is guaranteed. As the saying goes – your personal brand is what people say about you when you are not in the room.
Always saying please and thank you. It costs nothing, takes no time to say, but means an awful lot.
Your network. Building a network of contacts and influencers is critical in the services sector. Most people dislike forced conversations in crowded rooms with people they do not know. The most effective way to build a network is by getting involved in initiatives or projects where you contribute and share ideas. In such environments relationships blossom in a natural and relaxed manner. How effective your networks become and how referable you are depends on how you score in the first four points above.
Naturally, if you are blessed with strong technical skills in addition to having the softer skills outlined above then the world is your oyster.